Sales of the electronic nicotine delivery systems are possible in person or online. Promoters say the devices are safer than traditional cigarettes and might even help a smoker stop the habit. Online they range from 6,000 to 18,000 colons, about $12 to $36. Most are made in Asia.
The electronic cigarette sometimes is modeled to appear like a traditional one. The plastic tube contains a battery, an atomizer and a cartridge filled with nicotine. When a user inhales, the battery ignites the atomize and water vapor filled with nicotine enters the mouth. When the user exhales, the water vapor that is emitted looks a lot like cigarette smoke.
The user can select various concentrations of nicotine in the interchangeable cartridges and might even choose one that gives a cheesecake flavor, among others.
Costa Rica’s new anti-smoking law is silent on electronic cigarettes, and one user said that he has been told by police that the devices are legal. Under the new law, smoking tobacco is prohibited in restaurants, bars, some other public places like bus stops and also offices.
Electronic cigarettes are being touted as healthier choices than a tobacco product. Even some U.S. medical groups have said that electronic cigarettes are a better choice than tobacco products that emit a smoke with all kinds of cancer-causing agents.
Internet accounts generally favor the electronic cigarette. One graphic video shows an animation of a woman struggling for breath in a hospital room. A voiceover says that electronic cigarettes will not cause emphezima and other respiratory ills associated with the tobacco variety.
One man in the United States lost two teeth and part of his tongue when the electronic cigarette exploded in his mouth. An explosion is reported to be possible when a battery had been overcharged.
A typical electronic cigarette kit includes several nicotine cartridges, a battery and a recharging device, either from a wall plug or via a USB computer hookup.
Some of the cigarettes even have a tip that glows when a user inhales. But others do not resemble a traditional cigarette at all. Such devices have been around since 2006, but are becoming more popular as many jurisdictions pass restrictive tobacco laws.
An online YouTube offering even features Johnny Depp explaining the functioning of an electronic cigarette to Angelina Jolie. The segment is from the 2010 movie “The Tourist.”